Summer Buyer’s Guide: Greece

As Greece’s economy recovers slowly, bargains abound for luxury buyers willing to accept a little risk

In the second of our weekly buying guides, we consider Greece as your next summer-home investment

For the past six years, debt-stricken Greece has played the role of Europe’s basket case, plagued by a cratered economy, soaring unemployment and social unrest.

At its worst, many feared the Hellenic nation would choose to leave the European Union and return to the drachma, causing chaos for foreign owners of Greek homes who had mortgages in euros.

But as talk of a so-called Grexit now moves to a Brexit — and fears that Greece will leave the 28-strong European Union start to fade — some international investors have started to seriously consider snapping up a Greek vacation home.

According to brokers, this has led to an increase in inquiries from the U.K., France, Germany, Switzerland and America (and Greek-Americans, specifically).

Greece at a Crossroads

That’s not to say Greece’s economy has fully recovered; risks remain. But with a Grexit seemingly less likely, speculation is rife that average property prices may have finally bottomed out.

“The possibility of a Grexit was one of the main reasons people stayed away in 2015, but they are starting to understand that this is now not a likely scenario,” said Yannis Ploumis-Sotiropoulos, chief executive of Ploumis-Sotiropoulos, an affiliate of Christie’s.

“We are seeing more transactions taking place as prices have dropped about 50% since their peak,” he said. “People are starting to believe they have bottomed out.”

Nevertheless, investing in Greek property is not for the faint-hearted. If a Grexit does ultimately happen, luxury properties would likely face sharp devaluations. Tourism could also take a nosedive if there is more social unrest.

Risk and Rewards

If you’re willing to gamble, there are bargains to be had. Greece offers large homes in attractive locations in the €1 million price range ($1.13 million). According to Ploumis-Sotiropoulos, not many places on the Mediterranean offer such high-caliber properties at these low prices.

As for where to buy, the Greek islands are, as ever, the most attractive destinations. Specifically, Greece’s ongoing economic woes have not put off holidaymakers traveling to Mykonos, which continues to welcome jet-setters such as Naomi Campbell, Johnny Depp and the Kardashian clan, who view the island as a tranquil alternative to Ibiza.

Another island popular with foreign buyers is Rhodes. According to Georg Petras, a broker for Engel & Völkers, the average price for a villa with five bedrooms and ocean views on Rhodes is €1.5 million (about $1.7 million). Compare this to €5 million on Mallorca, a popular vacation destination in Spain.

Other opportunities await in Porto Heli (a Peloponnese town often described as the Hamptons of Greece) and on the islands of Corfu, Paros, Patmos and Hydra. All remain popular tourist destinations, yielding lucrative rental opportunities in the summer months.

Photo:Steve Duchesne / Getty Images

On the Market in Greece

Greece Sotheby's International Realty

Greece Sotheby's International Realty

Location: Mykonos
Price: Upon Request

This 13,993-square-foot, seven-bedroom, eight-bathroom property features spacious living areas, two swimming pools, a stunning panoramic sea view and the island’s classic white walls.

View full listing

Greece Sotheby's International Realty

Greece Sotheby's International Realty

Location: Spetses
Price: Upon Request

This beautiful villa on the island of Spetses has spectacular sea views, a wine room that holds up to 1,200 bottles, a swimming pool, a private dock for yachts and access to two private beaches.

View full listing

Greece Sotheby's International Realty

Greece Sotheby's International Realty

Location: Patmos
Price: Upon Request

This three-story home just outside Skala village, the island’s main port, has beautiful views of both the sea and the Monastery of St. John.

View full listing


Summer Buyer’s Guide: Portugal
In the first of our weekly buying guides, we consider Portugal as your next summer-home investment

Summer Buyers Guide: Portugal

In the first of our weekly buying guides, we consider Portugal as your next summer\-home investment

KickerThis is a kicker.

Alongside Ireland and debt\-stricken Greece, Portugal was one of the hardest\-hit countries during the dark days of the eurozone crisis, when its government was left with little choice but to beg for bailout money to stay afloat. Unlike Greece, whose economy is teetering on the brink, Portugal has come a long way since enduring a two\-and\-a\-half\-year recession. While this nation of 10 million still has some distance to travel, its not in bad shape. For one, the Portuguese economy grew by 1.5% in 2015, and is expected to expand by 1.6% this year. As a result, Portugals housing market is on the road to recovery, with prices almost 10% higher than their lowest ebb in 2013. Sales, too, are continuing to increase at a steady pace. Does this mean its time to invest in Portugal?

An Easy Path for Foreign Buyers

Like many other countries caught in economic turmoil, Portugal recognized the importance of attracting foreign buyers to aid recovery. For this reason, it introduced several measures, including an attractive Golden Visa program that grants residency permits for anyone buying a home valued at 500,000 \(about $556,000\) or above. This has proved especially popular with Chinese buyers, who account for 80% of the visas granted since the program went live in 2012. However, be warned that some new buyers may find themselves waiting. According to [**Bloomberg**](\-01\-20/chinese\-property\-buyers\-stuck\-in\-portugal\-s\-golden\-visa\-limbo), a backlog in the program may take up to five years to clear.

Certain Regions Are Outperforming

According to Savills, the global real estate consultancy, while Portugals national housing market is witnessing tentative signs of improvement, high\-end homes in the Algarve regionfamed for its beaches, watersports and golf resortshave outperformed the rest of the country in recent years. Sales have recovered from a low in 2012, with significant increases in both 2014 and 2015. In Quinta do Lago, for example, where the very best properties have exceeded their pre\-crisis peak, the number of transactions rose by 70% between 2014 and 2015.

The Algarve is particularly popular with the British, who make up nearly two\-thirds of Quinta do Lagos residents. \(The Irish, French and Germans are also fans.\) International tourist arrivals grew by 4.4% in 2015 to reach 1.2 billion, creating a robust market for rentals. Savills believes that, while many wealthy individuals remain fully invested in so\-called first\-tier cities \(e.g., Hong Kong, London, Singapore\), where future price gains appear uncertain, buyers are turning to second\-tier cities and leisure retreats like the Algarve for growth prospects. Yolande Barnes, head of world research at Savills, said, Characterized by low levels of supply and a product tailored to the luxury second home market, the prime Algarve is positioned to benefit from deepening demand from established source markets in the years to come. _Photo: Nature Reserve Ria Formosa, Lagoon Quinta do Lago_ _Sabine Lubenow / Getty Images_

On the Market in Portugal

**Location:** Loul, Portugal **Price:** About $12.1 million Located in the Algarve, at the southern end of the country, this modern villa is equipped with amenities fit for entertaining. Dotted with lounge chairs, the backyard features a swimming pool and terraces that overlook the neighboring [golf course](\-golf\-resorts\-improve\-their\-game\-1431616685). [**View full listing**](\-address\-not\-disclosed\-8135\-106?mod=article\_body)

**Location:** Albufeira, Portugal **Price:** $14.23 million This six\-bedroom luxurious ocean\-front property boasts stunning views of the Atlantic and the Algarvian coastline from almost every room. **[View full listing](\-address\-not\-disclosed\-8200\-377?mod=article\_body)**

**Location:** Loul, Portugal **Price:** Available Upon Request This unique seven\-bedroom, seven\-bathroom castle and grounds was 25 years in the making. Located in central Algarve, the property features 20,000 square feet of living spaceand beautiful sea views. [**View full listing**](\-address\-not\-disclosed\-8100\-000?mod=article\_body)

**Location:** Cascais, Portugal **Price:** $16.5 million This traditional chalet was originally built as a royal summer home in the late 19th century and has been owned by the same noble Portuguese family for the past century. **[View full listing](\-none\-none?mod=article\_body)**

**Location:** Lagos, Portugal **Price:** $9.67 million Situated between the sea and the Boavista golf resort, on the outskirts of Lagos, this modern four\-bedroom, five\-bath home sits on nearly 15 acres of land. [**View full listing**](\-address\-not\-disclosed\-8600\-281?mod=article\_body)

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